The hustle and bustle of the holiday season, this year, maybe a little less intense but, no doubt, still exciting. While holiday parties may be missing from our typical December schedules, the pandemic can’t stop the spirit of the season! Decorating the house, wrapping gifts, and baking goodies will keep the joy alive. Ultimately, just as in any other year, however, the excitement can become overwhelming and put children into full sensory overload. This, coupled with the world’s unsettledness, can increase cortisol, causing more stress than joy. Implementing positive strategies into our routines can help counteract these tensions and reconnect us to the season’s true meaning.
During the holidays, children’s emotions are at the forefront, and a season of excitement, happiness, and hope quickly turns into apprehension, stress, and irritability. The constant stimuli and lack of downtime lead the way to exhaustion and crankiness, and, therefore, children become more reactive, and behavior issues result. Even the most laid-back of children have difficulty managing their emotions. The ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster, along with the craziness, make it challenging for parents to keep themselves calm, let alone their children too. What should be a time of love and peace quickly turns into frustration and arguments.
Much of the season’s adverse effects come from upended schedules, late nights, and unhealthy habits. And because the season is “magical,” parents often assume their children will automatically be on their best behavior. Sadly, this is not the case, so parents often resort to shouting, threatening to call Santa, or taking presents away. And yes, parents may win the fight, but it ultimately results in everyone feeling horrible. To help prevent these things from happening, it’s essential to keep some routines in place, such as snack and bedtimes, and allow children some downtime each day. It’s also crucial for parents to give their children meaningful attention and have positive strategies in place to reinforce good behavior.
The holidays should be a joyful time of year. To keep things magical, it is necessary to maintain some normalcy amid the chaos while also creating opportunities for children to do their best. Having positive reinforcement strategies in place can help alleviate undesirable behaviors. Giving grace to children when they feel overwhelmed will also provide more peace and connection throughout the holiday season.